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Alternative Names Return to topCraniotomy; Surgery - brain; Neurosurgery; Craniectomy; Stereotactic craniotomy; Stereotactic brain biopsy; Endoscopic craniotomy
Definition Return to top
Brain surgery treats problems in the brain and the structures around it through an opening (craniotomy) in the skull (cranium).
Description Return to top
The hair on part of the scalp is shaved. The scalp is cleansed and prepared for surgery. An incision is made through the scalp. The incision may be made behind the hairline and in front of your ear, at the hairline near your neck, or elsewhere, based on where the problem in your brain is located.
The surgeon may use computers to help find the exact spot that needs to be treated (MRI or CT scans).
The bone is usually replaced and secured in place using small metal plates, sutures, or wires. The bone flap may not be put back if your surgery involved a tumor or an infection, or if the brain was swollen. (This is called a craniectomy.)
The time it takes for the surgery varies based on the type of problem that is being treated.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
Brain surgery may be needed to treat or remove:
Risks Return to top
Risks for any anesthesia are:
Possible risks of brain surgery are:
Before the Procedure Return to top
You will have a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may perform many laboratory and x-ray tests.
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
During the days before the surgery:
On the day of the surgery:
After the Procedure Return to top
After surgery, you'll be closely watched in the intensive care unit (ICU). When you are stable, you will then go to a room where a doctor or nurse will monitor you closely to make sure your brain functions are working well. They may ask you questions, shine a light in your eyes, and ask you to do simple tasks. You may need oxygen for a few days.
The head of your bed will be kept higher to help reduce swelling of your face or head, which is normal.
You may have pain after surgery while you are in the hospital. Your doctor or nurse will give you medicines to help with this.
You will usually stay in the hospital for 3 to 7 days. You may need physical therapy (rehabilitation) while you are in the hospital or after you leave the hospital.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The results depend on the disease or problem being treated, your general health, which part of the brain is involved, what procedure is being done, and the surgical techniques used.
References Return to top
Ortiz-Cardona J, Bendo AA. Perioperative pain management in the neurosurgical patient. Anesthesiol Clin. 2007 Sep 01;25(3):655-74, xi
Patterson JT, Hanbali F, Franklin RL, Nauta HJW. Neurosurgey. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 72.Update Date: 1/22/2009 Updated by: Daniel B. Hoch, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.